Do you want to know my secret to success – how I’m able to live the way I do after growing up in a dysfunctional family, lasting half a semester in college and possessing no special skills, talents or intelligence? Well, I do two things that most people don’t do: I study and I plan.
I pull these two levers once every day (and twice on Sunday), and that’s what has led to three decades of success. You can follow my example. Like all fundamentals of success, the daily disciplines of studying and planning are easy to understand, but hard to maintain in practice. Most people don’t have discipline, and, therefore, they do not succeed. What’s more is that in total, you only have to study and plan for eight hours every week! Curious about how that works? Let me break it down for you.
Early each morning, I give myself an hour to study and plan as needed. No matter how early the rest of my day starts, I always start with this hour – no exceptions. I devote the first 30 minutes to studying. When I say “studying,” what that basically means is that I’m reading a book to grow one of my core skills. Don’t spend that first 30 minutes reading useless crap; only focus on books that will help you grow in some way.
If your response to that idea of studying was that you don’t have time to read, then I would say you’re lying. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk and Jack Ma are all voracious readers. Do you think you’re busier than them? Yeah, thought not. They’re not the only ones either – the average multimillionaire reads at least two books a month. And guess what? I can get through that many books in a month by reading just 30 minutes a day.
I spend the remaining half of the first hour of my day planning. That means I review my MVPs (most valuable priorities) and walk through my day in my head. Thinking about how I might interact and empathize with people helps me grow my emotional intelligence.
It’s also during my planning time that I identify my spotlight moments – the moments when I know my example is on display, where I need to maximize my excellence. Want to know a little secret? Being excellent isn’t about trying to be incredible at everything all the time – it’s about picking the right moments to maximize your effort and be disproportionately excellent.
So, altogether, if you do those two things for an hour each day, that’s seven hours. The eighth hour happens on Sunday afternoon, when I plan out my week. And that’s it. That’s how you get a massive edge over your peers in whatever you’re doing. Too few do it and stick with it, and that will make it all the easier for anyone who does stick with it to succeed.
Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, and he has written several best-sellers, including The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, Living Your Best Year Ever and The Compound Effect. He is also the recipient of the “Master of Influence” designation from the National Speakers Association (NSA), which honors his professionalism and public speaking ability.